An incident during which a man tore off his shirt and began yelling during a Jewish ice hockey league’s event at the Winding River Park skating center in Toms River is under investigation by police, and it is unclear as to whether or not the fracas may have been spurred by the ethnicity of the players.
According to police spokesman Ralph Stocco, police were alerted to the incident which occurred Saturday at 10:30 p.m. Employees at the ice rink told officers that a man, described by police as white with a shaved head and multiple tattoos, entered the rink and walked past the employees while making obscene hand gestures. His name was not divulged publicly.
The man apparently approached the ice while “taunting and making gestures towards the players,” Stocco said, and ripped off his shirt while continuing to yell. He then left in a white pickup truck 5 minutes later. The man was eventually located during a traffic stop at about 2 a.m. at the intersection of routes 37 and 166.
Initially, the officers were told that the man may have been showing a swastika tattoo once his shirt was removed, but at the traffic stop, the man removed his shirt and there were mainly hockey-related tattoos – and no swastikas. The police officers also spoke to the employees of the rink, however they all said that they did not hear any specific comments made by the man in reference to the players.
“Several players were spoken to and they all confirm that the man was definitely out of sorts and aggressive but they heard no specific language, comments, or threats being that they were on the ice enjoying the game,” Stocco said.
When asked about the incident at the hockey rink, the man told officers he was in the area and stopped to see if his deceased friend’s jersey was still hanging at the rink. The jersey was not there, and this apparently agitated him. Additionally, he said he was not satisfied with the skill of the players on the ice. He then taunted them, at one point ripping off his shirt to show his many hockey related tattoos, Stocco said.
The officers believed that the man had no knowledge of the Jewish league on the ice at the time and his arrival was random. He was permitted to leave and the incident will be assigned to detectives who will review the case and determine the appropriate charges, if any, to be signed against the individual, Stocco said.